Where’s the line? | Living in the moment while preparing for the future
Today I’m sharing a throwback from the original Lilacs in Paradise blog. This is one of my favorites to look back on and I think you’ll see why.
The Best Day & Drawing Lines
It is absolutely the most beautiful summer Sunday morning in the history of ever. I’m sitting on the couch enjoying an ever-so-slightly chilly breeze with my cup of coffee, surrounded by my exploding little herb garden and my best little furbaby friend, the lovely Elsa Kitty. The sky is blue and beautiful as far as the eye can see, except for little stripes of those pretty clouds airplanes leave behind… It’s honestly such a beautiful sight! I can hear the newly hatched baby birds chirping away in the tree outside my window and I am so excited for life!
Living in the moment, but planning for the future… where’s the line?
I’ve been making a conscious effort to live in the moment for years now. At first it was really hard, I have always been the type of person who plans out every meal, every outfit, the route I’m going to take to get to class or work, how and when I am going to exercise for the entire week, etc. So to me, living in the moment was absolutely terrifying- and frustrating as hell! One minute I’d be doing great, and then suddenly I’d realize I’ve been thinking about something three years from now for the past twenty minutes and totally forgot to appreciate the squirrels running around the yard in front of me. Yikes.
If I was so organized and had everything planned out, why did I want to let go of that to instead live in the moment?
That’s something my friends have asked me, and the answer is actually simple. Being organized made me feel in control, but it was stressful. Sure, I always had my shit together (except when I didn’t) and I always had a plan, but if something went wrong or if I got invited to some event I hadn’t planned on, I either said no because it didn’t fit into my picture for that specific day, or else I got outrageously stressed about the event and became a flustered emotional wreck. Uncool. Seriously if you think drinking is bad for your body, try being stressed out 24/7 just white-knuckling life.
But I digress. My point is, life isn’t meant to be controlled and planned at every turn, it’s meant to be lived!
Obviously we all have goals, hopes, and dreams, and we should probably know things like how we are going to pay our bills and when they come due, when our car is due for an oil change, our best friend’s birthday, and have some sort of plan for retirement or at least a basic savings account… but there’s a line. So let’s talk about drawing and dancing along that line and what makes it worth the effort!
When you live in the moment, your soul sings.
Or at least mine does. It doesn’t matter if it’s a gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, practically unbearable moment, or if it’s the most incredible moment of my entire life (I have a lot of those moments, if we’re being honest), or even if it’s just a simple moment of everyday-ness chilling on the couch with my cat… when I’m fully present in the moment, my soul sings. I am so overwhelmed with love and admiration for this world, I’m in love with myself in the best way, and I am ready for life. That’s what living in the moment does for me, and what I hope it can do for everyone, because honestly the entire world deserves to feel this way on a daily basis.
So where is the balance?
First off, living in the moment is a habit, just like worrying about the future, always being late, and sleeping in until noon every day are all habits. You gotta train your clever brain to do it, and it takes some dedication at first. But once you get it down, the sense of freedom and joy is worth it one-hundred times over! Here’s how I found the balance between living in the moment and being a generally responsible adult (whatever that means).
First, THINK about this moment. Use your senses! Look around you, what do you see, what colors stand out to you right now? Is it cold? Is it warm? Notice the breeze, or the stagnant hot air (hey, the moment isn’t always a beautiful Tumblr picture, embrace that!)… What do you smell? If you’re eating or drinking something, notice the flavor like you’re tasting it for the first time. Are there undertones of flavor you haven’t noticed before? How does the fabric of your clothes feel against your skin? Let your senses take over for a minute and just see how you feel! You might be surprised.
Now, any time you feel stressed or overwhelmed or flustered, stop and ask yourself one or two of those questions. Make it a habit to notice what is happening around and within you in the moment. Then, come back to what was stressing you out, and ask yourself how important it is. How important will it be in an hour, a day, two months, a year? If you decide it’s going to be important in a year, sure maybe you need to deal with it, but if it’s not even going to be important an hour from now, it’s probably not too big of a deal!
Maybe you still want to do whatever needs to be done to address it, but instead of rushing, pick something pleasant about what is happening around you right now, immediately, and focus on it while you do whatever it is you need to do. (For instance, I need to do the dishes, and I am absolutely loving this perfect little summer breeze zipping around my apartment, and I will probably be just noticing and appreciating it while I scrub and rinse away. Dishes will be done before I know it, and I’ll still feel at peace in this beautiful moment.) This will bring you so much peace, and you will feel so accomplished when you finish your task unflustered, calm, and feeling connected with yourself and the world. (Sorry, that got a big Halmark-ish didn’t it? It’s true though!)
This is more easily said than done, but it’s so worth the effort.
It’s an incredible and humbling experience! Try it a couple times and see what you think. Start with things like doing dishes, changing the cat box, cleaning your room… Then when you feel comfortable, try to apply it to bigger things like homework assignments and filing taxes. Get into the habit of reaching out to see what is happening in the moment whenever anything happens- even if your phone just went off. It can be so stressful not checking it right away (or maybe I’m just mildly OCD…), but take a second to ask yourself if you’re willing to sacrifice this moment to check some probably-unimportant notification, or if you’d rather continue enjoying the beautiful blue sky or watching your little brother’s adorable game in the sandbox for a few more minutes. Sometimes it’s a relief to just give yourself permission to embrace the moment and let people wait for you. You deserve to savor this moment.